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Archive for May, 2009

Tequila por Mi Amante – Worth the Wait

Posted by Reese On May - 23 - 2009

Today I ended the steeping of my bottle of Tequila por Mi Amante.  What began a slightly sharp agave elixir is now, well, it’s now something completely different.  It’s now a crystal clear ruby hued nectar.  The aroma is what gets you first.  It’s got the tequila scents that you would expect, but layered on top of those is the aroma of fresh strawberries.  If you’re not under its spell by that point the flavor will push you over the edge.  The sharpness of the tequila is replaced with a subtle strawberry fruitiness with just a hint of sweetness.

I’ve only had time to sample it straight up and let this be a word of warning.  If you decide to try a few sips right after bottling you may never close the bottle again.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that you may have some unpleasant encounters with the floor were you to go this route.  We’re all adults here.  So, by all means, sample at your own risk.  After that first sip my head soon started filling with possibilities for how to make use of this wonderfulness.  I’m thinking a Margarita, of course, maybe a Paloma as Paul Clarke did, maybe even a riff on the Daiquiri with agave syrup and lime.  The softened tequila sharpness really makes this a much more versatile ingredient than straight tequila in my mind.

Tequila por Mi Amante

Some thoughts for my next batch or your first.  One, use a full 750 of tequila, no reason to leave a little behind.  Two, slice enough strawberries to where the tequila barely covers them all.  This will give you maximum strawberry flavor.  Three, when it comes time to strain use a metal strainer with a layer of paper towel inside.  The paper towel will catch all the tiny hairs that come off the strawberries during infusion.  Also, this will allow you to give the strawberries a squeeze to extract all the goodness.  Four, and this one won’t be hard I promise, drink it relatively quickly.  As with all infusions the flavors will begin to fade over time.  I’d say you have at least 4-6 months though.  Finally, some recipes out there suggest adding sugar.  Please don’t.  This will only prove to limit your cocktail options and should you want it sweetened to serve as a liqueur you can always add a bit of simple syrup later.

Well, that’s about all I have for today.  As I get a chance to mix up some cocktails I’ll post updates.  But don’t wait until then to get your own batch started.  With summer nearly in full swing the berries will be sweet and cheap.  A perfect time to put up a bottle to steep.

Cointreau vs. Hiram Walker Triple Sec

Posted by Reese On May - 23 - 2009

A few weeks ago I came home to find that the booze fairy had left me a delicious package in the form of Hiram Walker Triple Sec.  Also included in the box was a tiny bottle of Cointreau and the suggestion (challenge perhaps?) that I try them side by side.  Always being up for a good cocktail related experiment I kept it in mind and waited for the right time to do some experimentation.  This week was the perfect opportunity.  To get some other opinions I enlisted the help of my Mom and Stepdad as well.  We tried both liqueurs side by side, straight up to really get the true flavor.

A bit of an editors note before we get too deep down the rabbit hole.  Cointreau is a triple sec, so the title of this post is a bit of a misnomer.  I’m not ready to detail all the different orange liqueur varieties just yet.  But, if you’re looking for more info take a look at this thread on eGullet.  It’s long, but well worth the read if you’re interested in knowing the intricacies of triple sec, curacao, and brandy based orange liqueurs.  Okay, back to the task at hand.

Cointreau: At 80 proof this liqueur comes in a bit strong, but you don’t detect it much from the smell or taste.  The orange scent is sharp and reminiscent of orange peels.  On the palate you’ll find that both liqueurs are at about the same level of sweetness which is a plus because it makes it easier to interchange them in recipes.  I felt that the Cointreau had a slightly more intense and deep orange flavor but both my Mom and Stepdad were hard pressed to tell the difference.

Hiram Walker Triple Sec: This triple sec comes in at 60 proof.  A bit lower than the Cointreau, but I don’t really have a problem with that.  The orange scent is still present but a bit more muted here.  The flavor follows suit.  It is very good, but lacks the intensity and depth found in the Cointreau.

The final verdict is another time where I’ll veer from cocktail snobbery.  The Hiram Walker Triple Sec is very good.  I would not hesitate to use it when making cocktails for parties or other times when I’ll be using a lot.  The price difference is simply too attractive.  The HW Triple Sec rings in at $15-20 for a 750 where you’ll be paying $35-45 for same size Cointreau.

The orange flavor in the HW, although very good, is a bit muted.  As such, when I’m mixing drinks for myself or a couple friends I’m always going to reach for the Cointreau.  The intensity and depth of flavor win hands down.  However, and you’re probably already thinking this, you could easily bump up the orange flavor in the HW with a couple dashes of orange bitters.  And that’s exactly what I would recommend you do.  The triple sec coinoseur might be able to tell the difference in a cocktail, but I highly doubt it.

Dan’s Classic Martini

Posted by Reese On May - 21 - 2009

Last week I posted about the differences between shaking and stirring.  Since the post was focused on the merits of shaking or stirring Martini like drinks specifically Dan mentioned a classic take on the Martini that he had recently mixed up.

A couple months ago my family was having a big old gathering at our house. I felt like having a drink so I took out my tumbler and started making a martini. Everyone was asking what I was making and were confused when they saw me stirring instead of shaking. I explained to them why it’s better to stir instead of shake, but they required more convincing. The final product (2oz Hendricks, .25oz dry vermouth, 2 dashes orange bitters) was passed around and tried by 7-8 of my extended family members, all with nothing but good things to say. They said it ‘didn’t taste like a martini!’ and that they would actually drink it.

This recipe is very close to the original Martini recipes of the past which featured orange bitters rather than an olive.  I didn’t really cover this formulation of the Martini very well previously and felt this would be a great time to revisit it.

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Dan’s recipe decreases the vermouth level quite a lot, which is only appropriate given his selection of gin.  Hendrick’s is a wonderful gin with a complex flavor.  However, it’s not what I would call a particularly bold gin and would be completely lost were you to go with higher vermouth:gin ratio.  When I mixed it up I used new (old) formula Noilly Prat and Regan’s Orange Bitters.

The results were amazing.  My notes sum it up well: “Wow! Seriously fantastic Martini!”  And that it is.  The gin is light enough to allow the flavors of the vermouth and bitters to come through, yet the gin is still present.  I had a bit of lemon zest ready to add as a garnish, but it wasn’t necessary.  In fact I think adding some lemon would have overpowered the delicate balance of flavors.

After having consumed this cocktail I’m ready to bestow a fairly large compliment.  I would drink this Martini and enjoy it a great deal.  For those of you just recently tuning in, I’m not really a Martini guy.  I love gin with all my heart, but never drink it in Martini form.  That may very well change with this recipe though.

A sincere thanks to Dan for suggesting the recipe.  Keep ‘em coming!

Dan's Classic Martini
2 oz Hendrick's Gin
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
1) Combine ingredients over ice
2) Stir until very cold (30-60 seconds)
3) Strain into a cocktail glass

Paloma con Jarritos Toronja

Posted by Reese On May - 18 - 2009

During my week of Paloma exploration I wasn’t able to find any Jarritos Toronja, which, to put it simply, is the Mexican version of Squirt.  It’s been bugging me since then so I redoubled my search efforts and found that a local Mexican bakery carries it.  I picked up a few bottles and knew experimentation would ensue.  Most reviews you see build up, give you all the supporting material, then summarize.  Well we live in a time of instant gratification so for you info junkies I’m going backwards on this one.

Paloma con Jarritos Toronja

The verdict?  I’ll be sticking with Squirt.

I found the Jarritos Toronja to be very good.  I think it has a more authentically grapefruit flavor than Squirt does, but it also had some down sides.  Jarritos is sweeter than Squirt, as is evidenced by its increased calories 110 per 8 oz vs 92 for Squirt.  Jarritos is also not as sour, which I really look for in a Paloma.   Certainly you can fix it with some additional lime juice but you end up with a drink that’s more lime than grapefruit.  So, in the end both are really great options, but I prefer the Squirt.

Cocktails Revisited

Posted by Reese On May - 17 - 2009

During the brief time I give each cocktail here on CH there are times when some things get overlooked, glossed over or simply ignored.  This coming week I’m going to take a look back at some of the drinks I’ve covered prior and explore some areas that were glossed over previously.

Notes on the Bronx Cocktail

I’ve got four things I want to look at but I’d welcome suggestions/requests of others.  Here’s what I’m planning at this point:

  1. Tequila por Mi Amante (It’s ready)
  2. Cointreau vs. Triple Sec (Is the cost worth it?)
  3. Dan’s Martini (Check comment #1)
  4. Paloma with Jarritos Toronja

Anything you’d like me to revisit?